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DYNASTY's intrinsic problem

Discussion in 'Dynasty' started by Michael Torrance, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Addict

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    I was reading some of the interviews of writers on the show recently, and all of them after season 3 mention "the assembly line" model of DYNASTY which is what the daytime soaps use, but of course we know that daytime is not known for its attention to production detail. Here are some of the interviews:

    How did you perceive the atmosphere between the actors, writers, and producers?
    Unlike other shows I've worked on, Dynasty was organized along the lines of a daytime serial, with the writers working pretty much in isolation: me in my office – often alone, sometimes with a co-writer, working on story, my assistant nearby waiting for pages; Ed DeBlasio down the hall writing scripts; Doug Cramer and Elaine Rich worrying over production problems; the Shapiros and Pollocks not even on the lot, but at their homes, a telephone call away if needed. So while the relationships were always respectful and cordial, except for the story and production meetings, they weren't particularly interactive. And, again, I didn't often go to the set.
    (Marchetta)

    Since you were credited as the sole author of this seasonal bible, how significant was the contribution of Scott Hamner (co-developer of the stories for the episodes 6.4 to 6.30), Eileen & Robert Pollock (executive producers and formerly story consultants) and Esther & Richard Shapiro (creators of Dynasty)? What did they add to your work?

    Scott Hamner was someone I had worked with on Knots Landing, and I hired him to help me with the bible for the season, and the breakdowns of the story into episodes. We both worked under the supervision of the Pollock’s and the Shapiro’s. Dynasty worked on an assembly line model, probably because of the Pollock’s and Shapiro’s background in daytime soaps. Scott Hamner and I blocked out the stories, and Ed DeBlasio wrote the dialogue. I never worked on any other show that used this model, but it seemed to work for Dynasty
    (Gould)

    I wonder if the show was always like that (and we never saw the problems in the early seasons) or if it was a model they adopted later, once the Shapiros left the show on its own to be "a phone call away."
     
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  2. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Superstar

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    So did DeBlasio actually write all of the dialogue for most of the show? Working from stories by other writers? Is that why it always sounds the same? It’s only one man putting words into all of those characters mouths?

    Is that overblown floral pretentious voice of Dynasty all his voice?
    Did I strike a nerve?
     
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  3. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Addict

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    He certainly did not write all the episodes, even if he got credit for them. Maybe he edited the work of others, breakdown writers (the lowest pay scale) who wrote the dialogue and directions of each episode based on the bible breakdown for the episode--Jostein Gripsrud has that explained based on the interviews in The Dynasty Years. Per DeBlasio, he actually wrote the first and last episode of each season for continuity.
    I have both watched the first season a few times and also actually read the episodes on paper form at the University of Illinois special collections library. Trust me, they are nothing like the dregs of later seasons, so I don't believe the same person edited/supervised all of them.

    What is interesting is his answers when they ask him about the show's decline:

    His first answer was:

    As the series became more and more expensive we had to cut expenses - - outdoor shootings have always cost a lot more because you bring heavy machines and people to various places. There are elements that can vary outdoors - - wind, clouds, weather changes. You have to feed the actors and the technicians. Sometimes there is an accident or something unforeseen happening.
    We also removed characters to reduce the budget.It's not as difficult to create a success as to maintain its popularity. We've always tried to keep Dynasty exciting - we did not make it a failure, believe me.


    But later when discussing the demands of the producing team and the network (the example mentioned is Steven's homosexuality and the network's aversion), he states

    Our job was to please the people who paid the bills, before pleasing the public.

    So, there.
     
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  4. Grant Jennings

    Grant Jennings Soap Chat Active Member

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    The "assembly line" approach makes sense to me for any serialized story: draft the overarching story for the season; break it down, deciding which plot-points need to be covered in each episode and then write the scripts for each episode. This is essentially what David Paulsen described in an interview about season nine. It's the opposite of the "make it up as you go along" practice Kate O'Mara complained about. I've watched many excellent serialized dramas which have credited various writers for different episodes, how would the plots have made any sense if this format wasn't followed?

    I believe daytime soaps suffer in quality because they have to churn out about 260 episodes a year compared to 22 episodes for most prime-time series and 12 episodes for many recent (and highly regarded) cable/streaming series. I've read many posts comparing the bibles for various seasons to the shows that aired and in almost every post the person felt the bible was superior.
     
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  5. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Addict

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    I don't believe the writers were referring to how the story was written, but that the division of labor overall was assembly-line modeled, with various other parts of the show not interacting with the writers (Marchetta was asked how the writers and producers were, and it seems that on a weekly basis she had little to no contact with them). I don't believe that was how other shows at the time were written--and Marchetta even points that out, though she claims it worked for DYNASTY.
     
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